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Training Years: 2014-2015

Training Site: Universidade Federal da Bahia

Country: Salvador, Brazil

Mentor: Tavares, Steve Wing , PhD

Title:  Uncovering Petrogenic Pollutants in Bahia by Air & Health Impact Assessment (UPPBAHIA)

Project Objectives:  

Aim 1: Evaluate the effectiveness of passive diffusion tubes for monitoring ambient levels of SO2, NO2, O3, VOCs and benzene in tropical climates, and determine whether the petroleum complex in the Reconcavo region of Bahia, Brazil is a primary source of these air toxics.

Hypothesis 1: The gas levels detected using the passive diffusion tubes will be within at least 5% accuracy and 20% uncertainty of those measured using radial monitors. Considering that the average high temperature of 88°F and average high relative humidity of 93% in Bahia fall within the operating temperature and humidity reported by the tube manufacturer (up to 122°F and 95% RH, respectively), we anticipate that passive diffusion tubes will be suitable for use in this region of Brazil and other countries with similar weather.

Hypothesis 2: The petroleum refinery will serve as a major source of SO2 and VOC exposure in the region.

Aim 2: Perform risk modeling to determine whether the measured exposure levels would predict an increase in relative risk for respiratory illnesses or cancer and conduct a quantitative health impact assessment to determine how specific policy changes or a decline in the use of petroleum-based fuel use might alter these health risks.

Hypothesis 1: Risk modeling will demonstrate an increase in risk of respiratory illness as proximity to the refinery increases. Furthermore, we expect that data obtained from health information systems linked to the national health care system will show that residents who live closer to refineries experience more respiratory-related hospital visits than residents who do not live near refineries. As Brazil is the world leader in biofuel production (from sugarcane), we predict that a shift from petroleum-based fuel to biofuel will result in a significant decline in respiratory-related hospital visits for residents proximal to refineries.

NIH Support:  Fogarty fellowship postdoctoral training award

Courtney Woods headshot